STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Offering a unique blend of blues, rock, R&B, folk and gospel that can best be categorized as Americana roots music, “Professor Louie and the Crowmatix” are leaving their mark.
The brainchild of seasoned musician, songwriter and producer Louie Hurwitz, aka Professor Louie, the group was initially conceived as a back-up band during Hurwitz’s tenure with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers “The Band.”
Tagged Professor Louie by The Band’s Rick Danko, Hurwitz was enlisted to co-produce, engineer and perform on The Band’s last three albums, “Jericho (1993),” “High on the Hog” (1996) and “Jubilation” (1998). His work with The Band went beyond the studio, encompassing TV and radio shows as well as solo projects with Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson.
“When I was working with ‘The Band’,” said Hurwitz from his home in Hurley, New York, “especially when we got a record deal and had to put together a new song, a lot of times those guys would be on the road. So, I would pick the best musicians in the area and put together some demos of the songs I thought might work for The Band.”
“Rick Danko, bass player for The Band, and I were doing some solo shows,” adds Hurwitz. “ Just the two of us, and he said, ‘let’s get a band together.’ All of us lived around Woodstock, N.Y. We all shared various sessions together with artists, and we kept seeing each other. So, he said, ‘why don’t we use some of the guys we’ve been using in the studio with The Band?’ So, The Crowmatix started as a demo band for The Band as well as backing for Garth Hudson, the Commander Cody Band and Michael Falzarano of Hot Tuna and New Riders of the Purple Sage.”
The tragic death of Rick Danko in 1999 brought the curtain to a close on The Band. Hurwitz and the Crowmatix had a decision to make.
“When Rick passed and The Band world ended,” recalls Hurwitz, “the Crowmatix said, ‘let’s get together and keep playing.’ So, we started playing shows, and we had a tremendous reception from people when we played, which has kept “Professor Louie and the Crowmatix” working all the time.”
“(By) playing live and travelling together so much, we’ve developed our own sound,” says Hurwitz. “Through the evolution of us performing, our songs have become known, as opposed to music you put on the radio and everybody comes to see you because they heard it on the radio. Thankfully, people continue to come out to hear us and have a good time.”
After the release of their debut album “Over the Edge” in 2000, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix rapidly built a following in the U.S., Canada and Europe while working everything from folk clubs to festivals.
Featuring a line-up of seasoned musicians, each with his or her own impressive list of musical accomplishments, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix includes Louie Hurwitz (Hammond organ, keyboards, vocals, accordion), Miss Marie Spinosa (vocals, percussion, piano), Gary Burke (drums), Frank Campbell (bass, vocals) and Josh Colow (guitar, vocals). The band has recently wrapped up its latest recording, “Music From Hurley Mountain.”
“It’s original songs and a few older cover songs,” says Hurwitz. “It’s about our area here in Hurley, N.Y. It’s an old farming area with old families and a strip of thousands and thousands of acres. We just decided to write a record about all these people that have helped us out in our local area. We really go back to the well of the roots of Americana music. It’s based in country, blues, rock and roll and everything in between. I’m looking forward to playing it live and seeing the reaction.”
The past decade has garnered Professor Louie and the Crowmatix significant praise and notoriety on a global scale.
Partnering with the New York State Museum, the band released the live album “The Spirit of Woodstock” in 2006 to coincide with the Museum’s exhibit and concert series, “Sprit of the Woodstock Generation.”
That same year, the band was featured on the CBS T.V. special “Melodies Of Christmas.” Performing their award winning song “Melody Of Peace,” they helped raise more than $5,000,000 for The Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Hospital.
The 2007 release of Professor Louie’s instructional DVD “Rock and Blues Accordion” led him to tour Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia, where he taught students English through American music. His experiences there were captured in the documentary “Woodstock-Siberia Blues Express.”
Inducted into The Southern Canadian Blues Hall of Fame in Windsor, Ontario in 2010, Professor Louie was recognized for his solo accomplishments as well as his work with the Crowmatix.
As the group’s leader, Hurwitz is quick to recognize the collective creative diversity and showmanship that defines “Professor Louie and the Crowmatix.”
“The group keeps evolving,” says Hurwitz. “There is nothing else like it out there. When people come to see the Crowmatix, they get a great variety of music. They’ll hear some original songs. They’ll hear some really old folk music. They’ll hear some great blues songs, and they’ll hear some great music of The Band songs. People get a really great show, and the musicianship is impeccable. As long as the public keeps supporting us,” adds Hurwitz. “I can’t complain about anything.”
IF YOU GO: Professor Louie and the Crowmatix perform at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, on Wednesday April 15, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.
To stay up to date with Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, visit www.professorlouie.com